This smoked salmon recipe turns an ordinary piece of fish into an extraordinary, delectable, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful morsel that will become a new favorite with just your first bite. What is really amazing is how easy it is—hardly any prep and utter deliciousness. I mean, seriously. It is so unbelievably easy!
We absolutely love salmon around here. Plus, it is incredibly healthy for you. It is very low in saturated fat and a good source of protein. It's also one of the best sources of vitamin B12, potassium, and other nutrients like iron and vitamin D.
I also love how quick and easy this salmon is to cook up on a wood pellet grill. You mix the rub, put it on the salmon, and place it on the grill. Set the temperature, set the timer, and that's it! Super easy!
- Why a pellet grill?
- Do you have to brine salmon before smoking?
- What are the best wood pellets to smoke salmon?
- What is the best salmon for smoking?
- How long does it take to smoke?
- Is smoked salmon cooked?
- How to smoke the salmon
- Top tips for smoking
- Side dishes
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Why a pellet grill?
Over the last couple of years, my husband and I had heard really marvelous things about wood pellet grills. Our friends all told us how much they loved them, but we didn't think it was worth the added expense. We already had a natural gas BBQ; why buy something else that would do basically the same thing? Boy, were we wrong.
This spring, it has been hot, so we decided to start the barbecue early. However, the burner on one side no longer worked. So it was time to buy another one. We did a bunch of research and decided that it was healthier to eat food over wood instead of food cooked over burnt gas.
So, we decided to purchase a Pit Boss smoker 8-1 grill that uses 100% wood pellets as fuel instead of gas and propane. From the first time we used it, we were hooked. We love using it. It adds so much flavor. This is not a sponsored post; we love it that much.
Do you have to brine salmon before smoking?
No, you don't have to brine salmon before smoking, not for this recipe anyway. That's just an extra step that you don't have to do. This is just a simple step-by-step recipe on how to smoke a salmon. We are not going to do anything too complicated this time. It turns out fantastic without brining it...trust me.
What are the best wood pellets to smoke salmon?
Hardwood pellets are the best for salmon. We use the Competition Blend, which is a mixture of maple, hickory, and cherry woods. Other good choices would be hickory and applewood.
What is the best salmon for smoking?
Larger pieces of salmon with a high oil content will be more flavorful and more tender when smoked.
- Chinook salmon: This has a high oil content and is one of the largest salmon.
- Sockeye salmon: This also has a high oil content but has a firmer texture than Chinook.
- Coho: This is lower in fat but is also super delicious. This is my husband's all-time favorite.
How long does it take to smoke?
This recipe only takes 1 hour at 275-300 degrees, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Thicker fillets will take longer than thinner fillets.
Is smoked salmon cooked?
Yes. This is hot smoked salmon, so it comes to a safe internal temperature and is fully cooked. You are slowly heating the salmon to a safe internal temp while the smoke from your wood chips infuses the salmon with a light smoky flavor, resulting in moist, melt-in-your-mouth salmon.
With just a handful of ingredients, you can prepare this delicious, moist, melt-in-your-mouth recipe.
- Salmon. Fresh or frozen. About a 2-3 pound fillet. Leave the fillet whole.
- Rub Ingredients: Paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, raw sugar.
How to smoke the salmon
Preheat your smoker. Set the temperature to 275-300 degrees. Make sure you have topped it up with wood pellets of your choice. We like the Competition blend. Mix the ingredients for the spice rub (paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and raw sugar) in a small bowl. Place salmon fillet on a large plate or dish and sprinkle spice mixture over the top of the salmon.
When the grill has come up to the correct temperature, place salmon on the grill.
Cook for about 1 hour at 275-300 degrees until the internal temperature of the salmon, measured in the middle of the thickest part, reaches 145 degrees.
Enjoy your smoked salmon immediately when it is done!
Top tips for smoking
- Let the salmon sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before placing it on the grill. This will ensure even cooking.
- Invest in a high-quality temperature probe for your meat. We use the ThermPro-Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer. You just set the probes in the meat, set what kind of meat it's for, and it lets you know when it reaches that temperature. It is not advisable to open the lid during the cooking process, so you don't need to until the meat is cooked if you use a temperature probe.
- Cook with the thermometer, not the clock. All grills cook differently, and there are so many variables that play a part in the cooking time, such as weather, different types of grills, fresh or frozen meat, etc.
- Make sure you add your wood pellets before you start the grill. Check during the cooking time to make sure you don't run out.
Some of our favorite side dishes to eat with this decadent smoked salmon are Extra Crispy Oven-Roasted Potatoes, Instant Pot Fluffy Rice, Coleslaw, Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, or even Crispy Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries. I also love this served with a fresh green salad.
Looking for an oven-baked salmon recipe? Try Insanely Good Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon.
If you’ve tried this Smoked Salmon on the Pellet Grill or any other recipe, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you!
You can also Follow Me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Would you please tag me in your photos at @windingcreek_ranch? I would love to see your pictures!
Best Smoked Salmon on Pellet Grill
- Pellet grill
- ThermPro Wireless Remote Digital Thermometer
- 2-3 pound salmon fillet
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon raw sugar or sweetener of your choice
- Preheat the smoker to 300 degrees.
- In a small bowl, make the spice rub by mixing paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the salmon.
- Place the whole salmon fillet on the grill. If you have a temperature probe, insert it into the center of the thickest part of the meat. Close the grill lid.
- Cook until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. This should take about 1 hour.
- Remove from grill and place on serving platter.
- Enjoy hot off the grill!
I leave the skin on all my filets, pike; walleye; salmon; etc. Should I remove prior to cooking?
Hi Duane! I would leave the skin on - it will help to retain moisture!
Excellent, really enjoyed this dish!
We’ve since tried it with smoked paprika instead of regular and really liked the extra flavor/heat. Also, initially smoking at lowest setting for 30 minutes gave it a deeper smoked salmon flavor.
I'm so glad you liked the smoked salmon, Jason! Thank you for trying the recipe and sharing your variations with smoked paprika and the tip on smoking for 30 minutes for a deeper smoked flavor!
Unfortunately my 1 piece of salmon was much smaller than the recipe, so it only took 25 min to cook. I’m SO glad you put what temp the fish should be when done, otherwise, it probably would’ve been salmon jerky. I also ordered pre-marinated salmon, so I wasn’t able to apply the full extent of your recipe, but I’m looking forward to in the future. I’ll definitely make this my go-to recipe.
I'm so glad you found the recipe helpful, Lara! And I'm thrilled you tried another one of my recipes! Thank you! 🙂
do I use water in the smoker,or just pellets?
Hi Barry! Just use wood pellets. 🙂
Great recipe that turned out stellar on my Louisiana Grills Black Label 1200 pellet grill!
I went with "light" 1/2 tsp's of (fresh Penzey's) spices and 1/2 tsp of brown sugar.
Thank you for trying out my smoked salmon recipe. I'm so glad to hear that you liked it! 🙂
I am new to pellet grills and this was my first time cooking salmon on any grill. It was so easy and seriously the best salmon I’ve had. Anywhere. This will be a regular item at our house from now on. I can’t wait to try your pork loin recipe tomorrow. Thank you!
Woo-hoo! I'm so glad to hear that you loved the smoked salmon and that you found it so easy! That's the goal of all my recipes! I'm also thrilled you're trying the pork loin tomorrow! Thank you so much for coming back to leave a comment! 🙂
Turned out delicious! Thank you for the recipe.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Danielle! Thanks for trying it out!
the salmon goes directly on the grill, right? without any foil or anything?
Hi, Penny! Yes, the salmon goes directly on the grill grate.
This may seem silly. I am use to doing my own catfish fillets with no skin. The salmon that I see has skin one side. Should I remove this? Thank you
Hi Jerome! The salmon we buy in the store generally has skin on one side, so I cook the salmon skin side down as the skin helps to retain moisture. However, if I caught my own salmon, I would fillet it with no skin attached and cook it with no skin. I hope this helps! 🙂
Where do I put wood chips on pellet grill?
On our pellet grill, there is a hopper that holds the wood pellets. Hope this helps 😊
This looks so good! I really want a smoker someday. Smoked salmon is one of our favorites!
Thanks Faith! Smoked salmon is so easy to do!
do i need to let it sit out before cooking to get to room temp?
Hi, Kathi. Yes, you can let the salmon sit out for 15-20 minutes before placing it on the smoker to ensure even cooking.
Do i need to bring it to room temperature before cooking?
this salmon looks delish, thank you for all the helpful tips on how to smoke salmon!!
Thanks, Liz, I hope you enjoy it!
This is a really informative post. I learned so much!
Thank you, Katie!
I am new to smoking meats so I am glad to find this recipe and your great how to's so I don't screw up smoking my salmon.
I’m glad you like it, Jere, don’t worry, you can’t screw it up 😊
Wow this sounds amazing! Can't wait to try it out! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Nora, I hope you like it!